Today marks the 1 year anniversary of Shirley’s open heart surgery. I recall the doctors and nurses telling us that the days before her surgery were often referred to as “the honeymoon.” A time when everything is beautiful and new and the little babies display no serious symptoms of their CHD. They told us, however, that the honeymoon would not last. The symptoms of her TA would become more pronounced and the need for surgery more apparent.
When they wheeled her away, just after we gave her little kisses, our hearts sank. A visceral sense of grief weighed on us like a ton of bricks and we sobbed.
Would we every hold her again? Would she ever stare back at us with her beautiful blues eyes, so full of life?
The grief did not last though. Long before she was out of surgery we were blessed with an overwhelming sense of peace.
Shirley’s surgery was successful and we have enjoyed an entire year of what feels like a honeymoon. Although not everyday is easy, the vast majority have been filled with such a great sense of joy and peace. We don’t know how long our honeymoon with Shirley will last but I also cannot recall anyone guaranteeing us that life would be easy. We do not feel entitled to an easy life. We hope for one... but know that it is not certain. Our hope and joy in life is not dependent on our good fortune, it cannot be. If we put our hope in finite things we are certain to lose it when those things pass. Instead we hope in Christ.
People often ask us how we stay so positive. There are many answers to this question but a few things stand out to me.
First, we choose to dwell on the promises of God rather than the expectations of the world. We believe that God loves us, as we are today, redeemed in Christ. The events in life do not occur outside of God's love for us. Shirley's CHD is not God throwing us to the wolves. We believe that God is here with us and is using Shirley's CHD for His glory and our good. We firmly believe that no matter the trials in life, God has meant them for our good. If we believe this to be true, to be a matter of fact, just as we view gravity to be the reason that when we jump we will certainly come back down, then how could we maintain anything but a positive attitude? The world would have us believe that our life is difficult and that we drew the short straw. That, somehow, we have been treated unfairly or that we don't deserve to have such a needy and broken child. There is about as much truth found in that kind of reasoning as there is in a pile of bull's excrement (Brianna made me censor it). We are owed nothing and we deserve far worse.
Second, we simply feel blessed to have Shirley. We believe that children are a blessing, no matter what difficulties might come along with them. Shirley may have more challenges than some children but we are blessed just as much as anyone to have the opportunity to be parents. If Shirley is simply a blessing, then how on earth could we justify being negative?
Here are some throwback photos of Shirley the day she had surgery. I put a couple recent ones in as well!